Newsbeat

Ariana and Pete: Who gets the ring when an engagement ends?

Ariana Grande, Pete Davidson and an engagement ring Image copyright Getty Images

"If you liked it," Beyonce once famously sang, "then you should have put a ring on it."

But what happens when you don't "like it" any more, and an engagement gets called off. Who gets the ring?

Well, if US gossip about Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson is to be believed, her ring is back with Pete after the pair's reported split.

American tabloids claim she has returned the engagement gift the actor gave her (but kept their pet pig).

It's a difficult dilemma that many couples will have faced when their engagement ends, but there's a simple answer to the question.

It rightfully belongs to the person who was given the ring - at least it does under UK law.

"I have people regularly coming to me for advice on this," says solicitor Sarah Jane Lenihan from Stowe Family Law.

"The law is very straightforward on it."

An engagement ring is an 'absolute gift'

Sarah Jane's referring to the Miscellaneous Provisions act of 1970, which states that an engagement ring is an "absolute gift" - unless, during a proposal, whoever was giving the ring made it clear he or she might one day want it back.

And that would probably kill the moment.

"That would be a really bad proposal. But if people want to safeguard their gift, that really is what they need to do," she says.

But while the law is clear, Sarah Jane says problems arise when people believe they are "morally" entitled to the engagement ring after a break-up.

Keep it for the memories - or sell it to pay for dinner

Katie Davies from Cardiff kept her engagement ring when a previous relationship broke down - much to the annoyance of her ex, who asked for her to return it.

"I said that if he wanted the ring back which he had gifted to me then he would have to return to me his Xbox which I had bought for him," she says.

"I never heard any more from him about the ring again."

Katie says that she never wore the ring, but held onto it until she met her now-husband - then sold it and treated them both to a meal out together.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption You might not have much claim on a gift given if it came from the high street, but things could be different if it was a family heirloom

But there exceptions to the rule. Katie describes the ring she was given as "only a cheap ring" but if the gift has history, there may be grounds for a legal challenge.

Sarah Jane says that if the ring given was a family heirloom and has sentimental value to the family, courts will often decide the gift should be returned to the giver.

But some people choose to do that anyway.

Not everyone wants an expensive reminder of their ex

Ruth Walker says her ex spent £4,000 on an engagement ring to give her, but she was happy to hand it back when they split.

"I didn't want a reminder of the past," she says.

"He earned the money to buy the ring, not me. It was the right thing to do."

So as Beyonce also famously said: "To the left, to the left. Everything you own in a box to the left."

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra - if you miss us you can listen back here.

More on this story